March Meeting Summary, 1st Contract Signing

Irene Davidson and Steve Wilensky after CHIPS signed the Participation Agreement with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  (photo Annie Dean)

The big news is that Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS) signed a Participation Agreement with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest at the meeting.  This will provide the CHIPS/Washoe crew with more work at lower elevations during the winter months and should lead to additional hiring as well.  CHIPS is probably now the third or fourth largest private employer in Alpine County.  Congratulations to CHIPS’s Steve Wilensky and District Ranger Irene Davidson for getting this done.

Our meeting on March 6th, 2017 at Turtle Rock Park was sparsely attended by ten members of the public and agencies.  Several regular participants were ill and others were away.  The Articles of Incorporation have been accepted by the California Secretary of State, and applications for a Taxpayer Identification Number and DUNS Number have been filed.  Michael Barton has essentially completed the draft bylaws and they will be presented for consideration at the April meeting.

Senator Feinstein’s office has been in touch with the Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest Supervisor about how the Humboldt-Toiyabe could take advantage of the literally hundreds of millions of dollars that California is investing in forest health.  This is a work in progress, but it is important that we do whatever we can to get the Carson Ranger District the resources they need to improve forest and watershed health in Alpine County.  As an example of what can be done, the BLM in California only has a $1.0 million dollar budget for forest health related activities for the entire state, but has been able to file applications for about $5.0 million dollars of California Climate Initiative funds to improve forest health.

Dr. Peter Weisberg of the University of Nevada, Reno presented his research on pinyon-juniper dynamics, fuel succession and fire effects: reconciling management objectives with the current state of knowledge.  Although the habitat of pinyon-juniper in the Great Basin has been expanding for the last 200 years or so, it appears to have been stabilizing during the last 20 years.  There isn’t one simple reason for this, but in each area one or more factors may be dominant, such as overgrazing, fire exclusion, climate variability, biogeographic processes, recovery from 19th century wildfire, and reforestation after extensive harvesting.  He pointed out that implementing management objectives will largely determine what things will look like in the future.  What is good for the sage grouse may not be good for the pinyon jay.

Participant updates included the following.  Marina Vance reported that there is an AWG stakeholder’s meeting March 13th at the Hung-A-Lel-Ti community from 5:30 pm-7:00 pm.  Norman Harry will be the guest speaker.  March 10th is AWG’s monitoring day.  Earth Day is April 21st at Grover’s Hot Springs. Coreen Francis reported Tim Riode intends to return to ABC meetings.  Coreen Francis is working to invigorate ABC’s ties with Carson City.  There are $5 million for the Mokeumne Watershed project.  Mark Schwartz reported the Water Company is modernizing with a website which posts historical documents and minutes.  The Water Company is applying for a grant to redo the town’s antiquated plumbing.  Mark Schwartz reported the Economic Development Committee plans to make welcoming signs for Markleeville. They have amended the bylaws to include new members.  Irene Davidson reported she brought the radio repeater to the Board of Supervisor’s meeting for a “show and tell”.  The improved communication system will improve public safety for Markleeville and Alpine County.  David Griffith reported the Alpine Fire Safe Council Community Wildfire Protection Plan update has been sent to all the fire agencies.  It will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  David Griffith reported  now has over 120 members and is a good way to communicate with our community.  Karrie Baker was instrumental in getting it working well.  David Griffith attended the last Amador Calaveras Consensus Group meeting where the Forest Service reiterated their emphasis on the importance of more collaboration.  David Griffith reported Senator Feinstein’s staff has communicated with Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger.  The goal is to convince the higher ups in the Forest Service that California has a lot of money and that the Humboldt-Toiyabe should apply for funding and assign resources accordingly.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday April 3rd at 6:00 pm at Turtle Rock Park.  Dr. Sarah Bisbing, Assistant Professor of Forest Ecology at UNR will speak in April.  May is still to be decided.  Merv George, Forest Supervisor of the Six Rivers National Forest, will speak in June.  Dr. Hugh Safford, Senior Vegetation Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, is scheduled for July.  Thanks to Coreen Francis for helping firm up speakers.

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